You'd be forgiven for having missed Velocity the first time around. Despite getting a Pocket Gamer Gold Award, FuturLabs's take on the vertical-scrolling shooter was well hidden in the minis section of the PSN store.
Luckily, if you did miss it, the updated Velocity Ultra has now joined the original on PSN, offering updated graphics and controls for the Vita.
As well as fast and fluid action, Velocity's big addition to the classic shmup gameplay was a warp mechanic. Velocity Ultra takes this and bolts on every upgrade the Vita allows, with crisp new graphics, controls, and online leaderboards on which to compete with friends.
Ultra is an update of the original game, with the same 50 stages. This is no bad thing, as Velocity's well-paced stage progression ensures constant variety for newcomers, while new controls and leaderboards keep things fresh for fans.
But if you've played Velocity on minis then Velocity Ultra holds no surprises. You'll know what your little ship - the Quarp Jet - will eventually be able to do and, more importantly, you'll be familiar with teleporting.Warped fun
Teleporting is what sets Velocity Ultra apart from other shmups. The ability to instantly relocate from one area to the next is what turns this good shooter into a great one, enabling inventive combat tactics and puzzle elements that would otherwise prove impossible.
The Quarp Jet has two forms of teleportation. The first is single on-screen warp to allow the ship to leap past obstacles, gain access to new areas, or just gain tactical advantage over enemies.
I had hoped that the second analogue stick would control this mechanic on Vita. Unfortunately, the stick has been reserved for the secondary four-way missile system, so for much of the game I found myself still using the old method of holding the 'warp' button to aim a target reticule.
It was only after a late visit to the options menu that I found that there was touchscreen jumping in the game (which was turned off by default). I'm not convinced that this improves the action, as Velocity's speedy puzzles frequently demand that you keep your thumbs close to the buttons.
Warp gates provide the second, longer-range teleportation system. This method is less dynamic, as simply dropping off gates from your ship creates permanent warp points to instantly jump between. While this lacks the excitement of the short-range teleporting, gates add depth to Velocity Ultra's mazes.A-mazing
The large scrolling levels require you to take unconventional routes, teleporting back through stages in order to activate switches in the correct order to open pathways. Learning where to place gates for the best results can prove quite discombobulating, but it's the only way to compete on the worldwide leaderboards.
Along with Trophies, it is Ultra's addition of worldwide leaderboards that will offer the real draw to those who played the original. Racing through time trials and working out the most efficient routes through puzzles provides a whole new level of challenge when you face real opponents.
Velocity Ultra is a great game - or perhaps that should be: Velocity is still a great game. The updates made for this new release do not significantly change the core experience, but they do polish an already fantastic product.